American Rare Earths joins leading US research on ‘green’ critical minerals recovery
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In its latest partnership with a US Government funded R&D project, Australian-based American Rare Earths will work with leading researchers on new green, bio-based rare earths extraction, purification and separation technology.
The company’s subsidiary Western Rare Earths is supplying feedstock to scientists using a naturally occurring protein to recover high-purity rare earth elements (REEs) without harming the environment.
The collaboration is part of American Rare Earths’ (ASX:ARR) contribution as a Team Member of the US Department of Energy funded Critical Materials Institute (CMI).
It’s also a perfect fit for the company as its steps up its transition from being an explorer to producer of rare earths.
The research team plans to develop a scalable method for recovery of REEs from US-sourced allanite ore using the protein lanmodulin.
The discovery of lanmodulin by Penn State University’s Center for Critical Minerals Joseph Cotruvo enabled one-step extraction of REEs.
That’s a capability not offered by other chemical extraction methods plus it eliminates harmful solvents while offering the ability to achieve high-purity separation of certain critical REEs.
Western Rare Earths CEO Marty Weems of American Rare Earths Limited said of the collaboration: “The researchers affiliated with CMI, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the University of Arizona and Penn State’s Center for Critical Minerals are the competitive advantage for the US in its mission to responsibly secure this supply chain.
“The prospect of a sustainable, reusable, high-efficiency process that could extract, separate and purify scandium, yttrium and individual, high-value, rare-earth magnet metals could revolutionize the industry.”
The low level of uranium and thorium is a notable advantage of American Rare Earths’ allanite feedstock. These radioactive elements commonly co-occur in many other REE feedstocks and pose environmental and economic burdens due to their radioactivity.
It’s also contributed to American Rare Earths being asked to supply feedstock for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Rare Earth Elements (REE) bioengineering research program.
American Rare Earths CEO and Managing Director Chris Gibbs said: “As we develop our world class mining projects our strategy is to also focus on new and disruptive technologies while building our processing and refining capabilities.
“We are excited by the progress being made and I congratulate the US team on their work towards our vision of transformation into a leading vertically integrated, sustainable supplier of minerals essential for a renewable future.”
This latest research initiative comes after a bi-partisan piece of legislation was introduced into the US Senate that would force defence contractors to stop buying rare earths from China by 2026 and use the Pentagon to create a stockpile of the strategic minerals.
Rare earths and other critical minerals are used in many devices vital to a technologically advanced economy and national security.
The primary rare earth elements American Rare Earths is focused on are magnetic minerals neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr). The combination of these rare earths is a vital component of high- powered magnets used in a wide range of applications, from the rapidly expanding electric vehicle market through to air conditioning units.
Scandium is additionally used in high-strength, lightweight aluminium–scandium alloys that offer fuel savings when used in aircraft and vehicles. Scandia-stabilized zirconia (ScSZ) can also be an attractive alternative to yttrium due to its high conductivity and excellent stability.
This article was developed in collaboration with American Rare Earths, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.